Mindfulness

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 121–130 | Cite as

Does Mindfulness Meditation Enhance Attention? A Randomized Controlled Trial

Original Paper

Abstract

Mindfulness-based interventions have been incorporated into a variety of psychotherapies. Attentional disruptions are common in many mental disorders, and it seems generally accepted that practicing mindfulness enhances attention. We tested the hypothesis that mindfulness training would enhance four components of attention: sustained vigilance, concentration, inhibition of distraction, and executive control. A randomized three-group design included: (1) a mindfulness meditation group, (2) a progressive muscle relaxation group to control for effects of physical relaxation on attention, (3) a wait-listed group to control for practice effects of repeated measures. Fifty-three community adults were randomly assigned to one of these groups. Forty-five participants completed the 4-week program. After training and 4 weeks of twice-daily practice, the mindfulness group demonstrated significantly greater discriminability on a signal detection task than did the other groups. Significant improvements in sustained attention were found following mindfulness meditation, which did not appear to be mediated by relaxation or practice effects. Performances on measures of concentration and inhibition of distraction did not support the hypothesis. These results partially support current considerations of mindfulness meditation to enhance attention.

Keywords

Attention Mindfulness Meditation Progressive muscle relaxation Randomized controlled trial 

References

  1. Allen, N. B., Chambers, R., & Knight, W. (2006). Mindfulness-based psychotherapies: a review of conceptual foundations, empirical evidence and practical considerations. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 40, 285–294. doi:10.1080/j.1440-1614.2006.01794.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson, N. D., Lau, M. A., Segal, Z. V., & Bishop, S. R. (2007). Mindfulness-based stress reduction and attentional control. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 14, 449–463. doi:org/10.1002/cpp.544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baer, R. A. (2003). Mindfulness training as a clinical intervention: a conceptual and empirical review. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10, 125–143. doi:10.1093/clipsy/bpg015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Benson, H., Beary, J. F., & Carol, M. P. (1974). The relaxation response. Psychiatry, 37, 37–46.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Bernstein, D. A., & Borkovec, T. D. (1973). Progressive relaxation training: a manual for the helping professions. Champaign, IL: Research Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bhikkhu Bodhi (Ed.). (1993). A comprehensive manual of Abhidhamma Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society.Google Scholar
  7. Bishop, S. R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S., Carlson, L., Anderson, N. D., Carmody, J., et al. (2004). Mindfulness: a proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11, 230–241. doi:10.1093/clipsy/bph077.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Blackburn, I. M., & Davidson, K. M. (1995). Cognitive therapy for depression and anxiety: a practitioner's guide (amended ed.). Oxford, UK: Blackwell Science.Google Scholar
  9. Boals, G. F. (1978). Toward a cognitive reconceptualization of meditation. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 10, 143–182.Google Scholar
  10. Bondolfi, G. (2005). Mindfulness and anxiety disorders: possible developments. Constructivism in the Human Sciences, 10, 45–52.Google Scholar
  11. Broadbent, D. E. (1958). Perception and communication. London: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  12. Chambers, R., Lo, B. C. Y., & Allen, N. B. (2008). The impact of intensive mindfulness training on attentional control, cognitive style, and affect. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 32, 303–322. doi:10.1007/s10608-007-9119-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Davidson, R. J., & Schwartz, G. E. (1976). The psychobiology of relaxation and related states: a multi-process theory. In D. I. Mostofsky (Ed.), Behavior control and modification of physiological activity (pp. 399–442). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  14. Davidson, R. J., Goleman, D. J., & Schwartz, G. E. (1976). Attentional and affective concomitants of meditation: a cross-sectional study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 85, 235–238. doi:10.1037/0021-843X.85.6.611.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Davidson, R. J., Kabat-Zinn, J., & Schumacher, M. (2003). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65, 564–570. doi:10.1097/01.PSY.0000077505.67574.E3.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Deikman, A. J. (1966). De-automatization and the mystic experience. Psychiatry, 29, 324–338.Google Scholar
  17. Delmonte, M. M. (1987). Personality and meditation. In M. A. West (Ed.), The psychology of meditation (pp. 118–132). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Fan, J., McCandliss, B. D., Sommer, T., Raz, A., & Posner, M. I. (2002). Testing the efficiency and independence of attentional networks. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 14, 340–347.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Golden, C. J. (1978). Stroop Color and Word Test: a manual for clinical and experimental uses. Wood Dale, IL: Stoelting.Google Scholar
  20. Grossman, P., Niemann, L., Schmidt, S., & Walach, H. (2004). Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits: a meta-analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 57, 35–43. doi:10.1016/S0022-3999(03)00573-7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Hameroff, S. R., Kaszniak, A. W., & Scott, A. C. (Eds.). (1996). Toward a science of consciousness: the first Tucson discussions and debates. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  22. Hautus, M. J. (1995). Corrections for extreme proportions and their biasing effects on estimated values of d'. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers, 27, 46–51.Google Scholar
  23. Hautus, M. J. (1997). Calculating estimates of sensitivity from group data: pooled versus averaged estimators. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers, 29, 556–562.Google Scholar
  24. Jacobson, E. (1925/1987). Progressive relaxation. American Journal of Psychology, 100, 522–537. [reprinted from Jacobson, E. (1925). American Journal of Psychology, 36, 73–87]. doi:10.2307/1422693.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jensen, A. R., & Rohwer, W. D., Jr. (1966). The Stroop Color–Word Test: a review. Acta Psychologica, 25, 36–93. doi:10.1016/0001-6918(66)90004-7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Jha, A. P., Krompinger, J., & Baime, M. J. (2007). Mindfulness training modifies subsystems of attention. Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience, 7, 109–119. doi:10.3758/CABN.7.2.109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go there you are: mindfulness meditation for everyday life. New York: Hyperion.Google Scholar
  28. Lazar, S. W., Kerr, C. E., Wasserman, R. H., Gray, J. R., Greve, D. N., Treadway, M. T., et al. (2005). Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness. Neuroreport, 16, 1893–1897. doi:10.1097/01.wnr.0000186598.66243.19.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Lee, J., Semple, R. J., Rosa, D., & Miller, L. (2008). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for children: results of a pilot study. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 22, 15–28. doi:10.1891/0889.8391.22.1.15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lezak, M. D., Howieson, D. B., & Loring, D. W. (2004). Neuropsychological Assessment (4th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  31. MacLeod, C. M. (1991). Half a century of research on the Stroop effect: an integrative review. Psychological Bulletin, 109, 163–203. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.109.2.163.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. McNair, D. M., Lorr, M., & Droppleman, L. F. (1992). Manual for the Profile of Mood States. San Diego, CA: Educational and Industrial Testing Service.Google Scholar
  33. Moore, A., & Malinowski, P. (2009). Meditation, mindfulness and cognitive flexibility. Consciousness and Cognition: An International Journal, 18, 176–186. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2008.12.008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Nuechterlein, K. H., Parasuraman, R., & Jiang, Q. (1983). Visual sustained attention: image degradation produces rapid sensitivity decrement over time. Science, 220, 327–329. doi:10.1126/science.6836276.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Ornstein, R. E. (1986). The psychology of consciousness (3rd ed.). New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  36. Rani, N. J., & Rao, P. V. K. (1996). Meditation and attention regulation. Journal of Indian Psychology, 14, 26-30.Google Scholar
  37. Rosvold, H., Mirsky, F., Sarason, I., Bransome, E., & Beck, L. (1956). A continuous performance test for brain damage. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 20, 343–350. doi:10.1037/h0043220.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Rubia, K. (2009). The neurobiology of meditation and its clinical effectiveness in psychiatric disorders. Biological Psychology, 82, 1–11. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2009.04.003.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Schmertz, S. K., Anderson, P. L., & Robins, D. L. (2009). The relation between self-report mindfulness and performance on tasks of sustained attention. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 31, 60–66. doi:10.1007/s10862-008-9086-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Semple, R. J., Lee, J., Rosa, D., & Miller, L. F. (2010). A randomized trial of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for children: promoting mindful attention to enhance social–emotional resiliency in children. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 19, 218–229. doi:10.1007/s10826-009-9301-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Shapiro, D. A. (1987). Implications of psychotherapy research for the study of meditation. In M. A. West (Ed.), The psychology of meditation (pp. 173–188). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Spielberger, C. D. (1983). Manual for the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  43. Tang, Y.-Y., & Posner, M. I. (2009). Attention training and attention state training. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13, 222–227. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2009.01.009.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Tang, Y.-Y., Ma, Y., Wang, J., Fan, Y., Feng, S., Lu, Q., et al. (2007). Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104, 17152–17156. doi:10.1073/pnas.0707678104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Valentine, E. R., & Sweet, P. L. G. (1999). Meditation and attention: a comparison of the effects of concentrative and mindfulness meditation on sustained attention. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 2, 59–70. doi:10.1080/13674679908406332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Walsh, R. N. (1996). Meditation research: the state of the art. In B. W. Scotton & A. B. Chinen (Eds.), Textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology (pp. 167–175). New York: Basicbooks.Google Scholar
  47. Walsh, R. N., & Shapiro, S. L. (2006). The meeting of meditative disciplines and western psychology: a mutually enriching dialogue. American Psychologist, 61, 227–239. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.61.3.227.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Wechsler, D. (1997). Manual for the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (3rd ed.). San Antonio, TX: Pearson Education, Inc.Google Scholar
  49. Wenk-Sormaz, H. (2005). Meditation can reduce habitual responding. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 11, 42–58.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Zylowska, L., Ackerman, D. L., Yang, M. H., Futrell, J. L., Horton, N. L., Hale, T. S., et al. (2008). Mindfulness meditation training in adults and adolescents with ADHD: a feasibility study. Journal of Attention Disorders, 11, 737–746. doi:10.1177/1087054707308502.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences, Keck School of MedicineUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations